Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was sentenced to 27 years in jail for treason in a case denounced as a miscarriage of justice.
According to media reports, Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested in 2017 in a midnight swoop involving hundreds of security forces. He was accused of hatching a secret plan in collusion with foreign entities to topple the government of longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen. The co-founder of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) has long been a prominent adversary of Hun Sen, who critics say has wound back democratic freedoms and used the courts to stifle opposition.
The 69-year old has repeatedly denied the charges against him, which rights groups say were designed to bar him from politics ahead of July elections. He was placed under house arrest immediately after the verdict at the Phnom Penh court and banned from meeting foreigners and anyone who is not a family member without permission of the court.
The ambassador of the United States, W. Patrick Murphy slammed the trial and sentence as a miscarriage of justice. He said that the US is deeply troubled by the conviction of respected political leader Kem Sokha.
During a visit to Phnom Penh last August, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Kem Sokha, where he also raised concerns about the kingdom’s ailing democracy in talks with Hun Sen.
Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said the verdict shows authoritarians have won in Cambodia. He said that this is Cambodian democracy hitting rock bottom.